TEXAS, USA — A bill filed in Texas could give an extra advantage for anyone who is driving for two, even if their passenger seats are empty.
House Bill No. 521, proposed by representative Briscoe Cain, R-Baytown, would add a new rule allowing pregnant drivers to use HOV lanes, regardless of whether there's another passenger in the vehicle besides the unborn child.
The bill was one of hundreds filed this week ahead of the 2023 legislature session, according to the Texas Tribune. Most bills never become law. But if the HOV bill is approved, it would go into effect in September 2023 as part of the state's Transportation Code.
This proposal follows controversy after a pregnant Plano woman was ticketed for using an HOV lane while being the only person in her vehicle. She claimed the child she was carrying should count as a passenger.
In June, Brandy Bottone was pulled over by a Texas Department of Public Safety officer for taking the the high occupancy vehicle lane, or HOV lane, on Central Expressway in Dallas County. When the the officer asked who else was in the car, she told WFAA that she pointed to her belly and said "Uh, this!"
This happened shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, before Texas' near-total abortion ban. But Bottone said she was just taking a stand against the ticket, not on abortions.
"One law is saying that this is a baby and now he's telling me this baby that's jabbing my ribs is not a baby. Why can't it all make sense?" she said in July.
Bottone's citation was dismissed by the district attorney's office. In August, she gave birth to her "second passenger," a healthy baby girl.